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National soil assessment for forest and rangeland soils

Date: September 17, 2020

A new open access book synthesizes current soil research, tools, technologies, and management strategies for the United States.

The cover of : Forest and Rangeland Soils of the United States Under Changing Conditions: A comprehensive science synthesisSoils take thousands of years to develop, but they can lose their ability to contribute ecosystem services in a fraction of that time. A number of disturbances compound the vulnerability of forest and rangeland soils across the United States. Of greatest concern are various environmental changes, overgrazing, wildfire, and invasive species. Effects on soil health can be more severe when two or more of these stressors interact. 

This book, the result of collaboration between over 80 authors from 26 agencies and institutions, synthesizes current research and management information on forest and rangeland soils and offers ways to understand the impacts of natural and human-caused disturbances. The book highlights the interplay of human activities, ecosystem services, and stressors that affect soil resistance and resilience to environmental changes. It focuses on impacts from climate change, severe wildfires, invasive species, pests and diseases, pollution, and land use change.

Finally, the book explores ways to positively affect future forest and rangeland soil health and provides critical information for land managers. Nine geographically focused Regional Assessments detail region-specific soil responses to land management. Opportunities to deepen our understanding of soils and long-term ecosystem health are also highlighted.  

Key Findings

The book:

  • Provides an overview of the state of forest and rangeland soil research.
  • Describes impacts to soil from:
    • Climate change and variability
    • Wildfires
    • Invasive species, pests, and diseases
    • Pollution
    • Non-urban land uses
    • Urban land uses and change
  • Highlights approaches to soil restoration and management opportunities to improve soil health.


Forest and Rangeland Soils of the United States Under Changing Conditions

Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Rich Pouyat, Northern Research Station (emeritus)
Linda Geiser, Air and Soil Research program leader (WO)
Toral Patel-Weynand, Director, Forest Management Sciences (WO)